2022 review – ‘racing/training’ summary

I started writing this thinking it was going to be a summary of misery, but it’s actually really interesting, alongside highlighting how much of a stupid moron I can be when it comes to battering myself into the ground. Read on for more.

I’ve written one of these every year for the last 9 years, so I feel like I should, to keep the ball rolling. Let’s see if we can find any positivity from the horror show that has been the last 12 months of my life. For happier times, previous years summary’s can be found here;


There are some yearly training totals, of sorts, to have a quick look at.

Running – 677 miles (2021 – 1,741)

Cycling – 3,029 miles (2021 – 10,679)

Swimming – 7 miles. Yes that is 7 miles. (2021 – 100)

Looking at the above numbers is fairly perplexing to be honest. I’ve been ill for the entire year, barring a miraculous recovery month in May which even now, we can make absolutely no sense out of. So I flicked open my yearly training log on Strava, to see how the story unfolded.

January (The denial phase)

I’d finished 2021 in the usual fashion, with my 5th Xmas Day marathon. A classic tradition. Things started to go wrong shortly afterwards. I was ill. Nothing serious, just some sort of virus. Katie and I were both booked into racing the Knacker Cracker on New Years Day. ‘Britains toughest 10km’. I’d come into 2022, probably in the best shape of my entire life to date. I was so determined to start the new year off in the right way, not with a DNS. The show must go on.

So the show did go on. Whilst ill, I ran one of the hardest races you could do. Nearly 500m of vertical ascent in 10 kilometers. Ridiculous. I ended up narrowly finishing fourth, dressed as a pink power-ranger, with an average heart rate of nearly 180bpm. Katie won, dressed as a bumble bee.

Captain idiot then when out and ran 13 miles the next morning, whilst still feeling like crap. Senseless. Even looking back now, I’m cringing. After that point, I took a few days off, accepting it was necessary, telling myself by the following week I’d be right as rain. But I wasn’t.

What followed was some bizarre, ‘I can’t run at 100% myself but I’m just going to run and help Katie do races’ period. First I ran the Tadworth 10 alongside her – she won. The following weekend she ran 1:21 at the Farnborough Half – again with me by her side. The weekend after that, I paced her to a new 5km PB at Dulwich parkrun – 18:22. It’s worth noting here – she asked me to do none of these things. I just can’t get enough.

This was accompanied by such strava training uploads titled;

‘I wish I had the ability to let myself stop running’

‘Still ill – couldn’t care less anymore’

Clearly my stupidity knew no limits. Things (obviously) came crumbling down around that Dulwich parkrun week, where I convinced myself I was on the mend, and decided to run 20 miles with Ed in the Surrey hills followed by 16 miles the next morning. Game over.

February (The hiding phase)

Now I was properly ill. Bedbound. Couldn’t get off the sofa. But still unable to let go.

I took a couple of days off, before getting back on the turbo. Even if I was sick, I had to keep moving my body. Hopelessly addicted. So throughout February, I went on the turbo, for around an hour a day. Very easy spinning. Keeping my heat rate very low. But I had to keep moving. I didn’t put any of it on Strava. I just didn’t want people to judge me.

Interestingly, this didn’t make things worse. I wouldn’t do much for the rest of the day, and I started to slowly feel better.

March-April (Recovery from sickness v1)

I started running again when I felt able. Short 5 kilometer runs every other day. I gradually built up the distance over March and into April. There were quite a few setbacks, and I was still quite ill, but things seem to be moving in the right direction. By mid April I was back under 20 minutes at parkrun, and I was finally optimistic that things had really turned a corner. I was doing some easy running and cycling in the week and one ‘fast’ parkrun on a Saturday.

May (The mini renaissance)

Absolutely baffling. I’d stumbled into May, off the back of months of illness, somehow seemingly in some of the best form of my life. Sure, I’d focused on shifting some weight off whilst I was recovering, and I’d managed some core strength work during that period also, but my cardio training had been minimum.

Halfway through May, I lined up at the start of the 5 mile Wimbledon Trail Series race, after I’d continued to increase the mileage. I surprised myself with a 7th place finish, but more importantly, loved every second of it. It was so emotional, just being able to run properly again, after months of setbacks and tough times.

I’d ‘recovered’ just in time for my favourite weekend of the year – Green Belt Relay. The good form continued, as although I lost out in a sprint finish on the opening day, I still covered 10 miles in 60 minutes, on a hot day, whilst having to navigate the course through Hertford town center. The following day I took the win on stage 20, which I found hugely overwhelming and emotional.

Looking back at this now, it makes me so upset, knowing how naive I was, and how much pain and suffering was just around the corner. But I continued to ride the final part of the wave, as I got to pace Katie in another half marathon, where she again ran 1:21, besting her PB by nearly a minute. My mind was then blown, as I ran a 17:12 parkrun, one of my fastest 5km’s ever, only a few seconds short of my PB. I couldn’t believe how well things were going, and I was just so happy.

I got one final taste of joy at the second Wimbledon Trail series, improving my 7th place up to 4th, beating quite a few guys that I would rarely/ever beat. I was actually in the lead group until the final mile. It felt like I was on the cusp of something (for me) great, and I was just so excited for the rest of the year, what with getting married as well and all the fun that entails.

Then darkness.

June-December (Illness phase two – ten times worse than last time)

It started innocuously enough. I was away with work in Birmingham, delivering a training course. I start to feel a bit ‘fuzzy’. I wasn’t stupid now, I’d learned several lessons. I immediately stopped all exercise and activity. I stayed at home and rested. I was sure with a few days complete rest, it would go away. I had the Dorking 10, a local road race coming up, one I’d been looking forward to for months – my ‘comeback’ race. No dice.

Things just kept getting worse, and worse, and worse. But it was different this time. No secret turbos. No core strength. No taking the dog for a walk. I was really, really sick. I’ve told the story on other blogs during the second half of 2022 – go and check them out if you want the full download. Simply put – I was ruined. My Strava shows me months on end of zero activity. I could barely move on most days.

With the wedding speeding towards us, I was desperate to rest, recover, and have the day we both deserved. We did have an amazing day – friends and family pulled me through and I’ll never forget it for as long as I live. But the mental and physical stress of that day alone probably set me back months. I was spiraling into physical and mental hell.

I had one chink of light in the darkness – parkrun. Every week, no matter how bad I was feeling, I’d turn up, and walk around at the back. Sometimes it would be the only time I’d leave the house all week. But I made myself keep going. I refused to just completely lay down and die forever. I ended up getting around 43 parkruns in 2022 – an absolute lifesaver.

After what seemed like an eternity, with so many different doctors consulted, alternative treatments tried and enough harrowing experiences to last me forever, November started to show a tiny iota of improvement. This has continued to trend in the right direction, in a very non-linear, up and down kind of fashion. On the 19th of December, around 6 months since I’d done any activity other than walking, I got back on the turbo again, for 15 mins at walking effort.

I have absolutely what no idea what 2023 and beyond will hold for me when it comes to running and triathlon. I do know one thing though, as cringey and cliché as it sounds. I’m a fighter. I used to do all these crazy things because I loved it, and I still do. I want to get back to doing what I love. I’m not prepared to give up on that hope, and I’ll keep trying until it comes back, in some form or other.

So no race calendar planned for 2023. I haven’t entered anything. Let’s just hope that things eventually sort themselves out, and I’m back boring you all with race reports and top quality ‘bantz’. Until then, I’ll be in my ice bath.


2 thoughts on “2022 review – ‘racing/training’ summary

  1. Joe – what a read that was! Read it twice through. So pleased some positive news at last!! Keep up the good work and progress. You are so determined to get your old life back that I’m sure you will do just that. All your family and friends will be one hundred percent behind you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s